Courtesy of Actors From The London Stage
The UTSA Friends of Shakespeare and the UTSA Department of English are hosting the Actors From the London Stage for a performance of “Much Ado about Nothing” on Oct. 1, 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Arts Building Recital Hall on UTSA’s Main Campus.
The touring group consists of five British actors from prestigious touring companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the English Touring Opera and the Royal National Theatre.
Dr. Kimberly Fonzo, the co-chair of the Shakespeare residency, said that “Shakespeare’s not only meant to be read on the page. It’s meant to be seen, and we don’t often get to see classically-trained actors putting on Shakespeare.”
The actors — Al Barclay, Paul O’Mahony, Claire Redcliffe, Georgina Strawson and Jack Whitam — direct themselves and perform multiple roles in the play, which features minimalist costumes and set design.
“The thing about (the minimalist production) is that it gets you to focus on the language,” Fonzo said.
“In Shakespeare’s time, people spoke about hearing a play, not seeing a play, so I think this kind of performance is in the spirit of those original performances that focused more on the words and the emotions.”
During their tour, the Actors From the London Stage will visit seven universities — including Notre Dame and UT-Austin — for one week each. On top of performing “Much Ado about Nothing,” they will also visit classrooms where they will host workshops on everything from the language of Shakespeare to public speaking.
The actors first started working on their production of “Much Ado about Nothing” in mid August. “It’s five actors in a room, and we’ve got four weeks to come up with a play,” Claire Redcliffe, the actor who plays the roles of Hero, Leonato, Sexton and Watch, said of the development process. “Luckily, we all got along very well.”
According to Redcliffe, the most challenging part of the rehearsals was having no director. “I had to learn to trust my instincts and go with what I felt because there’s no one telling me whether it’s good or bad. It’s just a case of always saying ‘yes’ to ideas, and if they don’t work, they don’t work, so we try something new.”
“Much Ado about Nothing” will mark the 28th performance of the Actors From the London Stage at UTSA. The university has been partnered with the program since 1988, and the residency is supported by The UTSA Friends of Shakespeare, the Crittenden Shakespeare Endowment and a grant from the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts.
“[Plays] are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The moment that’s going to happen on stage is never going to happen again,” Fonzo said of the significance of theater. “With a movie, you can put it in and it’s the same movie every time; but if you miss a play, you miss a unique experience.”
Redcliffe echoed these sentiments: “You will see something that will never be seen again.”
Tickets for “Much Ado about Nothing” are $18 for general admission and $10 for students (with a student ID) and are available online at www.colfa.utsa.edu/english. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door (cash or check.)